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Recap / Star Wars Rebels S1E11 "Call to Action"

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The Rebels plan to hijack an Imperial communications tower to broadcast a message of hope. Meanwhile, Grand Moff Tarkin arrives on Lothal to deal with the Rebel problem.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Ambiguous Situation: Ezra openly wonders if his message actually inspired anyone to fight — while people on Lothal are shown to react, the reactions of people on other nearby systems are not seen. It's made more ambiguous by the following episode, which seemingly shows life on Lothal proceeding as usual, only with a larger Imperial presence in the streets. Later episodes show that it had an even greater impact than they realized.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: First Minister Tua, and then Aresko and Grint, are reduced to nervous stammering as Tarkin grills them about the rebels' activities and their failures to prevent them.
  • Bad Boss: One of Tarkin's first acts on Lothal is having the Inquisitor kill Aresko and Grint for their repeated failures in catching the rebels.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Kanan is captured, and the Empire destroys the communications tower when they realize it's been hijacked, preventing the crew from sending out anything more than a short message of hope, which they aren't confident will lead to anything.
  • Call-Back:
    • Gall Trayvis is shown pledging his support to the Empire in a holo-transmission, after he blew his cover in the previous episode.
    • Ezra uses his animal control ability to make a loth-cat sabotage the probe droid, which he learned how to do in "Empire Day"/"Gathering Forces".
    • The transmission equipment used by Ezra's parents is used by the crew to transmit their message.
    • Like in "Spark of Rebellion", Hera refuses to leave Kanan behind even if it's dangerous. Unlike in "Spark of Rebellion", she's left without a choice.
  • Can't Stop The Signal: After hijacking an Imperial comm tower, the crew has Ezra give a Rousing Speech to Lothal (and several other neighboring systems; it's a Subspace Ansible tower). After being unable to enter the control room to pull the plug, Tarkin orders the tower demolished immediately . . . but it's too late. The missiles hit right as Ezra finishes the broadcast.
  • Call-Forward: Tarkin does the same thing here that he will later do in Rogue One. When he can't stop the transmission, he destroys the transmitter instead. In the latter case he is even willing to destroy a manned Imperial installation with the Death Star to do so.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Tarkin mentions having worked with Jedi, which was shown in The Clone Wars a few times. He didn't much like them then, either.
    • Tarkin tells Kanan, "You do not know what it takes to win a war, but I do." One of Tarkin's complaints in his first The Clone Wars appearance was that the Jedi were ill-suited to leading a galactic war.
    • Kallus mentions the scene of Kanan against a bunch of Stormtroopers is familiar, referring to his outing as a Jedi in "Spark of Rebellion". Kanan quips that it will have the same outcome, but this time Kallus has the Inquisitor.
    • Tarkin notes that the rebels here are principled, unlike other cells he's met. He's likely referring to Teller's group.
    • Tarkin wears battle armor that is very similar to that worn by General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The general opinion of Kanan's plan to hijack an Imperial communications tower.
    Ezra: That's a crazy plan.
    Kanan: That's why you like it.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • When Kanan and Ezra are discussing sacrifice on the Ghost's ramp, the scene ends with "Binary Sunset". When Ezra leaves Kanan behind, a few bars of it play just before the door closes.
    • The Imperial March, which had previously appeared in-series as an upbeat military anthem, returns in all its dark glory to signal Tarkin's arrival.
  • Defiant to the End: Double subverted. The Inquisitor offers Kanan the chance to spare his friends if he surrenders, since Tarkin wants him taken alive. The Inquisitor is surprised when Kanan turns off his saber, having expected him to reject the deal out of hand. Then Kanan's communicator beeps; he was just stalling for time until Hera could show up in the Phantom, at which point he holds off the Inquisitor as long as possible.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Kanan stabs the elevator controls to keep the Imperials from getting to the control room where his crew is. It doesn't prevent them from flying up there, but Hera and Sabine have that problem covered.
  • Determined Expression: Kanan, after surrendering to the Empire.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: Tarkin responds to Maketh Tua's greeting by scolding her, Kallus, and the Inquisitor for their failures.
    Tua: Grand Moff Tarkin, we are honored by your visit to Lothal.
    Tarkin: My visit is hardly an honor, Minister.
  • Double Entendre: Ezra, Kanan and Sabine debate on how to execute their plan of hijacking the main communications tower of the Empire.
    Sabine: Five minutes is optimistic!
    Kanan: Three is better.
    Sabine: You can have it good, or you can have it fast.
  • Downer Ending: Kanan is captured, and the Empire destroys the communications tower as the crew of the Ghost try to broadcast a message to all of Lothal.
  • Dramatic Irony: Retroactively overlaps with But for Me, It Was Tuesday in context of The Bad Batch. Tarkin meets Kanan Jarrus in person after he surrenders to the Grand Inquisitor, with the Grand Moff completely unaware that this is the same Padawan that Clone Force 99 helped him escape Order 66.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For newcomers to the Star Wars universe, this episode delivers a perfect introduction for Grand Moff Tarkin, who after walking off his shuttle delivers an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Minister Tua, Agent Kallus and the freaking Inquisitor. Then, in his next scene, he has Aresko and Grint executed for their latest failure in apprehending the Rebels.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Both Kallus and Maketh Tua are extremely put-off by how coldly Tarkin has Aresko and Grint executed. In Kallus' case, mind you, his reaction is more likely due to him realizing that, if he makes one more major screwup, it will be his neck on the chopping block next. Both would later turn against the Empire and aid the Rebels.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A loud clanging bell tone is heard just before the Grand Inquisitor executes Aresko and Grint.
  • Found Family: Ezra explicitly calls the crew of the Ghost his new family, since he lost his parents.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It's incredibly brief, but the lightsaber starts to cut into Aresko and Grint's necks just before the shot switches to Kallus' reaction. Grint can even be seen wincing.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera pans away just before Aresko and Grint lose their heads.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kanan didn't intend a heroic sacrifice when he sent the others up the lift, but when the Inquisitor shows up, he doesn't hesitate to sabotage the lift so that the Imperials can't use it and then challenges the Inquisitor directly.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: The theme of the episode. Tarkin recognizes that the Rebels are a threat not for their strength, but as a symbol of hope. Likewise, Ezra's transmission stresses that they have to keep fighting for something better.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Tarkin tells the Inquisitor that he wants Kanan taken alive. Fortunately he's able to deliver.
  • Killer Rabbit: The loth-cat that Ezra reaches via the Force is nearly strong enough to nearly disable a probe droid. Nearly.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Things get dark when Tarkin shows up. Aresko and Grint get killed for their failures, and Kanan is captured.
  • Lured into a Trap: When Tarkin learns that the rebels plan to hijack the Imperial comms tower, he lets them carry out their plan while setting up an ambush.
  • Make an Example of Them: Why Tarkin has Aresko and Grint decapitated right in front of Minister Tua and Agent Kallus, to let them know failure is no longer acceptable on his watch. This is also the reason he orders the Inquisitor to capture Kanan, so they can break him and dispell the myth of the heroic Jedi on Lothal.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Ezra uses a loth-cat to disable the probe droid so the Imperials won't be alerted to the fact that they're scouting the communications tower. Unfortunately, a feral cat isn't quite as thorough as a blaster, so the probe droid is still able to transmit an image of them back to base.
  • Musical Spoiler: Of the Five-Second Foreshadowing variety; the episode opens with the Imperial theme playing, and then Grand Moff Tarkin steps off the shuttle.
  • Mythology Gag: Tarkin's arrival on Lothal is shot exactly like Darth Vader's arrival at the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
  • Never Say "Die": An odd variation. After the speeder chase through town, Aresko reports that there were no casualties, which Tarkin takes as proof that the crew is more principled than other rebels. Note that Kanan shot a Stormtrooper in the chest and another tumbled into his exploding speeder after a crash. Sabine goes on to shoot six more over the course of the episode. Aresko might be referring to civilian casualties, which would make more sense. It's also possible that the wounds were non-fatal.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: When he learns that the rebels have hijacked the communications tower, Tarkin has the entire thing leveled rather than try to undo the damage. The rebels still get their message out, however.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Tarkin in spades. His appearance is a signal that the Empire is done playing around on Lothal and the gloves are off.
  • Not Quite Dead: Ezra has a loth-cat sabotage the probe droid guarding the communications tower, but it's still able to transmit an image of them leaving on speeder bikes, giving Tarkin a heads up so he can arrange a trap.
  • Off with His Head!: Goodbye Aresko and Grint, courtesy of the Inquisitor.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: After the transmission cuts out, Ezra turns to Hera and says "This isn't over."
    Hera: No. It. Isn't.
  • Reaction Shot: Kallus and Tua are both visibly disturbed by Aresko and Grint's execution.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tarkin lets the Imperials on Lothal know that he is not pleased with their inability to deal with a five-person rebel cell.
  • Rousing Speech: Ezra gives one using the hijacked Imperial communications tower. At the very least, everyone on Lothal heard it. It's said to have enough range to reach several systems. Though he has his doubts it worked or anyone was even listening, Hera is sure they were.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Aresko and Grint's purpose in the story. Their deaths are meant to showcase just how ruthless and brutal Tarkin is along with showing the Empire is done playing games on Lothal and is kicking things up a notch.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Tarkin gives the Inquisitor a dark look while scolding him for his failure to defeat the Jedi.
    Tarkin: A shame we don't have someone who specializes in dealing with them, otherwise our problems might be solved.
  • Scotty Time: Sabine says that she can do a good job in five minutes, and a fast job in three. When the Empire arrives, she gets one, and it does the job well enough.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Ezra goes out of his way to destroy the probe droid without using weapons, so as to not alert the Empire to their presence and their planned attack. Unfortunately, the droid still manages to identify them when they escape on their speeder bikes.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Tarkin's first order upon arriving on Lothal? Execute the incompetent comic relief villains.
  • Shout-Out: An execution much like this one, ordered by a menacing elderly general to the dismay of both his Co-Dragons — a ruthless male and a more benevolent female subordinate - takes place in another sci-fi dystopian Disney show.
  • Tempting Fate: Kanan boasts to Kallus that their battle will end the same way it did last time — in Kanan's favor. Then one of the dropships flies in and out pops the Inquisitor.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kanan actually manages to land a decent kick on the Inquisitor, who notes that he must have been training. He still loses, but it's progress nonetheless.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: When Tarkin is ordering prrrobes sent after rrrebels.
  • Unexpected Character: Grand Moff Tarkin's appearance was a surprise, to say the least.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Our heroes discuss their plan enough to ensure that something goes wrong. It's even Lampshaded by Sabine when she mentions how rarely things go according to plan.
    Kanan: That's the plan.
    Sabine: And things always go according to plan, right?
  • Villainous Demotivator: Tarkin has Aresko and Grint killed just to demonstrate to Maketh Tua and Kallus that he is done tolerating failure. Both are severely unnerved by it.
  • Wham Episode: Kanan is captured, and the crew broadcasts a message to all of Lothal — the biggest impact on the Empire that they've left thus far. Additionally, having had enough of their failures, Tarkin kills Aresko and Grint.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Kanan tells Hera to leave him behind using her callsign "Spectre 2". When she refuses, he calls her Hera to stress how important it is.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Inquisitor decapitates Aresko and Grint for their repeated losses to the Rebels, on Tarkin's orders.
    Tarkin: From now on, failure will have consequences.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Kanan sabotages the control to the door of the communications tower after the rest of the crew has used it, stranding most of the Imperial forces outside. This also means he has nowhere to go, forcing the crew to leave him behind.